Mexicans march, boycott American businesses

Mexicans blocked border crossings, thronged city streets and shunned U.S.-owned stores and restaurant chains in "A Day Without Gringos" supporting rallies across America demanding immigration reform.

The spillover effect from protests and boycotts in the United States was tough to measure south of the border Monday because May 1 is a holiday that closes schools, as well as many businesses and offices.

But major U.S. chains like Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Burger King were open, and, while some locals stayed way, they far from deserted in Mexico City.

Shopping at Wal-Mart, 28-year-old salesman Juan Ortiz said he supported legalizing migrants, but didn't think it was practical to boycott U.S. goods. "You have to buy what is least expensive here, and I have to buy things for my family," he said.

In the border city of Tijuana, across from San Diego, about 400 boycott supporters blocked half the access lanes to an international bridge to discourage Mexicans from crossing into the United States to shop.

In another border city, Nuevo Laredo, protesters blocked a bridge over the Rio Grande into Texas for a few hours.

Far more visible, however, were the protests of thousands of unionized workers, who dedicated annual May 1 marches to immigration, carrying banners that read "Total Support for Migrants."

"Legalization for all migrants. We are going for the legalization of all in the United States," said marcher Ada Omana, who lives in Chicago and serves as migrant-affairs secretary for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. "Legalization is not a prize, it's a recognition of our work."

The protests coincided with a nationwide "Day Without Immigrants" in the United States, where hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants skipped work and took to the streets. Some in Mexico saw the marches as the beginning of a new, cross-border Latino movement.

"This is a great revolution of the bronze race, the brown race," Marti Batres, Democratic Revolution's Mexico City director, told a rally. "Our nation goes beyond the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande)," he said, noting that half of Mexico's territory became the western United States.

Masked Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos told a rally of about 2,000 supporters outside the U.S. Embassy that immigrants in the United States are "fighting in the belly of the beast."

"As Zapatistas, we support the boycott of all the U.S. products that have proliferated in Mexico," he said, vowing to "expel from our land all the rich and powerful ... including, of course, U.S. capitalists,"reports the AP.

I.L.